Tag Archive: Regina Doman


Note: I was asked to write a review of 1635: The Papal Stakes. I decided to do a separate post to provide context for those who don’t know what the series is about.

My friend and sometime employer Regina Doman, who owns the small publisher Chesterton Press, is extremely picky about the covers of the books she publishes. I’m not quite as picky, but there’s good reason to pay attention because it’s often the first thing that a potential reader will see. It gives a sense of the adventure you’ll find inside; or perhaps it’ll make you curious about the symbols or people shown there; or, sometimes, there will be something so incredibly grabbing about it that you’ll pick the book up and say “That had better be in here!”

Many years ago, I was browsing the Baen Books catalog of upcoming releases when I spotted the latter kind. Rather than describing anything else first, let me just show it to you:

To quote my friend Andy after seeing this for the first time: “Wh-wh-whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”

This is 1632, by Eric Flint, first book in the Ring of Fire series (originally The Assiti Shards, and now more commonly known as just the 1632 series). This impossible scene doesn’t quite happen in the book, but it comes close. Yes, those are modern Americans with modern guns. Yes, those are 17th-century soldiers with 17th-century guns and armor. No, those 17th-century guys don’t know what they’re getting into.  Continue reading

Quick Update

Not all of you are on my Facebook page (or follow my personal page), so I probably seem more silent than I actually am. Even so, I do seem to keep neglecting my blog, don’t I? I thought I should let you know what I’ve been up to.

  • Co-writing two novels for Chesterton Press — one with Regina Doman and the other with Elizabeth Hausladen — in a new YA contemporary fantasy series called The Chronicles of the Ruahim. (Both due for publication in the spring.)
  • Preparing for an expansion to the series, with at least two more novels after that (one co-authored with Lori Janeski, who does not as of yet have anything for me to link to).
  • Editing and reviewing books that I either can’t tell you about just yet or will hopefully do so in the near future.
  • Preparing for a non-credit creative writing workshop this fall at Christendom College, in Virginia.
  • Preparing a one-shot RPG adventure for Taste of Fate on August 10th at Labyrinth Games with my friends at Evil Hat Productions. (A sci-fi story heavily influenced by Babylon 5 and Schlock Mercenary.)
  • Having too much fun posting quotes from Babylon 5 as I re-watch the series. Y’know. Research. Honest. *nods* (In fact, I should really do a blog post on the show as it had an enormous influence not only on the sci-fi genre but on television as a whole.)
  • Preparing a display for BrickFair VA, a local and very large Lego convention (yes, I do non-writing things — check out those photos and tell me that’s not both impressive and genuine art). The show’s this weekend and I am not yet ready. Weee!
  • And then between BrickFair and Taste of Fate, I’m off to a conference in New Jersey for elbow-rubbing, card-exchanging networking.

All in all, I’m pretty booked between now and mid-August.

In the future, I need to do some more updates. I’ve been writing stuff down, so I just need to actually sit down and write blog posts. I’m a very naturally talkative person, but I’m also a perfectionist — which is good in an editor, and kind of bad in a blogger. Alas! I’m much more active over on Facebook, especially on my personal page — but my personal page covers far more than my opinions on writing, so that doesn’t really count.

Oh, one other announcement: my above-mentioned co-author (and mutually-adopted little sister) Elizabeth is getting married, probably before our book comes out. She’ll still be Mrs. Nathan Hajek.

Now I just have to make certain her fiance earns the honor of her hand in marriage. (*evil laugh*)

One more thing!

Always listen to Uncle!

Who says you can’t learn anything from a Saturday morning cartoon? Uncle’s timeless advice always pops up when I get excited about research. (Mind you, it’s usually accompanied by the mental image of an old man whacking me on the side of my head with two outstretched fingers.)

And yes, research can be exciting. If you’re not eager to learn new things and insert them into your craft, you’re probably in the wrong business. Not all research is fun, of course — but from the number of authors and editors I see who share things they find on social sites, it’s fairly obvious that I’m not the only one who likes finding new things.

And I not only enjoy it, but I’m actually good at it, which is why it’s one of my offered services to authors and publishers . . . and one that a lot of people take me up on.

Someone tried taking me to task on that at Balticon, though, claiming that it’s not the job of an editor to do research for an author. Aside from the fact that I get paid for it in addition to more traditional editorial services, I had to explain to him why he’s wrong. And while I’ve talked about the importance of consulting experts already, I figure I ought to give another concrete example.

Almost exactly one year ago, I brainstormed out a YA contemporary fantasy series (The Chronicles of the Ruahim) with my friend and sometime client Regina Doman, and that series is currently coming together. For the sin of coming up with the idea, I’m the managing editor and (technically) senior author on the series. Since it deals with myths all around the world, I find even my childhood fascination with comparative mythology can’t keep up, and I’m constantly doing more and more research on different cultures, different creatures, and different versions of particular legends. Apache, Irish, Norse, British, French, German, Polish, Russian, Jewish, Egyptian, Arabic, Indian, and Japanese have all come up in the context of this series, and we’re just getting started. It also means we have to find words in various different languages, sometimes all for the exact same creatures and concepts.

That’s only part of it, of course. The first book deals with sword techniques, (Irish, Norse, and German techniques, plus modern foil as well), and while I’m pretty knowledgeable on the subject of “real” swords, I know I can always learn more; and of course, I’ve never formally studied fencing, but fortunately I have a good friend who actually teaches it.

The second book (being co-authored by Elizabeth Hausladen of Confessions of a Seamstress) in the series takes place entirely in Paris, which means a lot of research into more mundane matters: maps of the city, Parisian habits, art history, Versailles, the French Revolution, and even life in a convent.

The man who tried telling me off for doing research for an author has obviously never done a typical book project before. I’ve talked before about how an editor is concerned with more than just grammar; an editor’s job is to make the book as high-quality as possible in the time available. That means fact-checking, because you never want your book to contain an error so egregious that experts and knowledgeable amateurs alike will find themselves just talking about what you got wrong.

What I just described for The Chronicles of the Ruahim is merely the most obvious research topics, and only what’s come up so far.  It’s too much for one person. I’m not even talking about the man-hours here; the person doing the research has to process it, translating it into what is necessary to tell the story correctly. Time isn’t so much a factor here as just dealing with all the mess of information that pours in once you open the research floodgates.

Sure, you as an author need to do your own research, but the editor’s job is — among other things — to make certain your work is consistent. If you’re lucky enough to have one already, or you’re willing to hire a freelancer like myself to help out, do it. No one person can do it all alone.

One more thing: listen to Uncle!

I’m woefully behind on my planned blog posts — which is potentially a good thing, since I’ve been too distracted by editing to write about it. Right now, I’m taking a moment between emails to put down a few thoughts.

Odds are that whatever you write about is, to some extent, outside your area of expertise. No one person can know everything about every subject. To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, your job as a writer is to get your head into the heavens; if you try to get the heavens into your head, your head will explode. Continue reading

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